Living with Type One diabetes: one Northlander’s story

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Now a happy twelve year old, Isaiah Kohl was born healthy and perfectly fine. Then, when he was just 17 months old, he started feeling ill.

“For about a week before he was drinking a lot of a lot of water and just kind of had an unquenchable thirst and he was staying up all night,” recalled his father Matt Kohl. “Then after about a week of that, he started to get sick and vomiting, and we brought him to the doctor. He had lost two pounds in 12 days.”

Isaiah was diagnosed with type one diabetes. His parents were relieved to know what was wrong, but with the diagnosis came challenges.

“There was so much that we were having to learn and relearn, and there was a lot of exhaustion that came with it as well,” said Matt.

Type one diabetes can occur at any age but commonly forms in children or young adults. With this type of diabetes, the pancreas becomes unable to produce any insulin. For those affected, this means a lifetime of taking insulin and monitoring blood sugar.

“When we first started out, Isaiah would get a minimum of four arm pokes and four finger pokes a day,” said Matt.

“It wasn’t fun, I’ll say that,” said Isaiah. “But I think that I kind of just got used to it and it kind of became routine.At the start it was not the greatest thing ever, but eventually I kind of got used to it and just kinda like it got better and better each time.”

Insulin pump technology has evolved rapidly over the past eleven years. Rather than having to stick himself to check his blood sugar whenever he thinks it might be too low or too high, Isaiah can now check and control his blood sugar with just a phone.

“What I do is I check it on my phone to see what my blood sugar is, and then I put that in along with any carbs I had for eating things,” explained Isaiah. “Then I just have a button and it gives me the insulin for that.”

“It’s really cool to feel like you’ve got support, like your back is covered and you’re not just shooting in the dark anymore,” said Matt.

With the small pump on his arm, Isaiah is able to live a normal life.

“He loves to do sports, and he hasn’t placed any limitations on himself,” said Matt. “Diabetes isn’t something that he deserved or that we ever thought would happen to him. It just did, and he has learned to make the most out of it.”

This Saturday, the Kohls are participating in the JDRF Community One Walk to raise money for type one diabetes research.

“Any diabetic or parent of a diabetic child out there that feels like they’re doing this on their own, come on out to the walk this weekend because you’re going to discover there’s a lot of people who aren’t doing it on their own,” said Matt.

The event will be at Lake Place Park in Duluth this Saturday from 9am to noon and include balloon animals, glitter tattoos, henna painting, photo station, and yard games. Portable restrooms will be available on-site.

The 5k will begin at 10am. Rain is likely throughout the morning on Saturday.

The nearest parking is at Fitgers ramp. Other parking options are the First Street ramp or street parking.